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U3A Writing: Sunday School

...Sunday School Anniversary was the day for a new dress, white ankle socks and black patent ankle strap shoes...

Peggy MacKay recalls Sunday School days.

My first Sunday School from 5 years to 11 years was Oakes Baptist and I remember Sunday School Anniversaries, as the day for a new dress, white ankle socks and black patent ankle strap shoes.

Walking out at Whitsuntide we wore sandals or white tennis shoes, not lace ups, as it was always hot, or so it seems. We got tar on our legs and Mam had to get it off with margarine.

We had an annual tea and meeting, and a concert, usually a play in which I took part. A competition similar to an Eisteddfod was held, and I remember competing in the Elocution Section with a poem that I can still over 70 years later partly remember - I found it in a poetry book of old poems just recently. I was beaten to 2nd place by half a mark, much to my mother's annoyance as she was sure I was the best.

Christmas parties where the food was always potted meat sandwiches and jelly. One year I was violently sick and blamed the potted meat, and I've never looked at it since! We also had Scripture Exams and I still have the certificate for that.

Then on to Sowood Methodist when I was 11 years old, and the pattern was much the same, except this was a village church and much smaller. By the time I was 14 I was teaching in the Primary and singing in the Choir.

After choir practice we would practice the latest dance steps, much frowned upon in the Methodist Church in those days. At 15 we were accepted into the gang!! This meant walking after the evening service, and going for hikes at Easter and Whitsuntide, then to the fair or the pictures.

During this time we had evangelists from Cliffe College for two weeks, and we loved the foot tapping choruses, so much livelier than our old hymns. On the last day of the visit at the evening service, they called for people to go to the front and commit themselves - made members in other words. All my friends went forward, but not me; I didn't feel I could promise all that was asked of me at that time. Oddly enough, in later years I was the only one still going to Church and my promise came much later.

Then came the war and everything changed. Girls and boys were conscripted to the Forces and the Land Army, or in my case a reserved occupation, and we ceased to meet.

For my part I married and went to the north of Scotland and attended the Free Church of Scotland. Our children attended Sunday School there and sadly I don't think they have many happy memories as their 'hell and damnation' teaching was more frightening than beneficial.

In 1960 we returned to England and after two years in Ingbirchworth in the Methodist Church we arrived in December 1962 to Linthwaite.

In those days we had a huge Sunday School, Beginners, Primary, Juniors and Seniors. During the week the Junior and Senior rooms were used by Colne Valley High School, so, on Friday evenings the desks had to be stacked and the rooms made ready for Sunday School. Then on Sunday evening they had to be set out again for school on Monday morning.

Sunday School Anniversaries were notable occasions; everyone had a new outfit - including a hat! The week prior to the Anniversary all the ladies came to help me spring clean the Chapel. Every seat cover and carpet was taken out and beaten, pews polished, floors washed and windows cleaned.

On the great day there was a full choir and helpers. People came from up the valley (they were invited out for meals or brought sandwiches and I brewed pots of tea). The afternoon Service was the Children's Service, then home to make my family tea and then back for the Evening Service.

The Chapel was packed; all the seats across the sides upstairs were occupied, every pew - chairs were even put in the aisles. After the collection was taken the stewards retired to the vestry to count the money and after the last hymn the 'Amount' was announced before the singing of the 'Drop.' By this time the doors would be open and there would be people standing outside to listen or join in with us.


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